Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Prisoner of the Gestapo - A Memoir of Survival and Captivity in Wartime Poland
By Tom Firth
ISBN 9781848842069
Published by Pen and Sword (
GBP £19.99


This is the extraordinary and interesting memoir of Tom Firth. His childhood was in Japan and he survived the Yokohama earthquake of 1923. His family decided to relocate to his mother’s native Poland but unfortunately Poland was invaded by the Nazis and the Russians in 1939.

His father and elder brother were in England at the time but Tom was trapped in the Russian zone. He managed to get to Warsaw where his mother had survived the bombing of the city. His memoirs vividly illustrate the game he and his mother had to play to avoid capture and internment by both regimes. He managed to shelter escaped British Prisoners of War and this lead to his dramatic arrest by the Gestapo. They were most horrid to him during his interrogation and imprisonment. After eighteen months he was miraculously released only to be re-imprisoned by the Russian Red Army.

After being held by the Gestapo his Russian captors were equally awful. They held him in similarly primitive and degrading conditions. Eventually he was passed to the British Military Mission in Moscow and they arranged his transfer to Britain. He arrived in the UK with a supply column in 1944 and then he commenced the search for locating his close family. The family managed against all odds to re-unite but tragedy occurred when his mother was arrested by Polish Communists. They sentenced her to death but she was freed under a Government amnesty. She arrived in the UK during 1956.

The text details the exploits of an exceptional family and their tale is told in a fluid and vivid way. His style entraps the reader and he has produced a first class autobiography. The characters are brought to life and the reader is transported into the action just as if he was there in the first hand. It is a remarkable story and Mr Firth and his family were extremely lucky and fortunate to have survived all this and to be able to compose the book.

This is a fascinating book which details all his wartime life threatening situations and he has had most unique experiences. It is well worth reading and most enjoyable. It is a miracle that he managed to survive all these incidents and that he was able to put pen to paper. This in itself is quite an achievement.

April 2010